Written by Sam Dow

12th February 2021

Surprisingly, now is a good time to recruit – there are plenty of good candidates out there and some who have lost jobs through circumstances that are no fault of their own.

But before you start your search, have you considered hiring an apprentice? A lot of people are not aware of the many benefits this can bring to a business.

During National Apprenticeship Week (February 8th – 15th), the government is working hard to encourage companies to embrace apprenticeships, offering incentive payments for employers – but you’ll have to hurry as these end on March 31, 2021.

If you are still wondering how offering apprenticeships can benefit your company, here are five reasons why you should hire an apprentice:

You’ll receive a grant

If you take on new apprentices from August 2020, you can apply for the government grant between August 2020 and 31 March 2021.

The scheme offers £2,000 for every new apprentice aged 16 to 24, and £1,500 for those aged 25 and over. Employers receive 50% after the apprentice completes 90 days, and 50% at the end of a full year. This can be claimed on top of the £1,000 already offered for those who hire apprentices aged 16 to 18, and for those aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan or who have been in local authority care.

To boost productivity

Apprenticeships could give businesses of all sizes a boost to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.

In a survey by Gov UK 78% of employers said apprenticeships helped them improve productivity. This is because having an apprentice in the workplace means an extra pair of hands. More senior staff will be able to delegate certain tasks, giving them time to get on with their main responsibilities.

You can also use a new government service to hire apprentices who have been made redundant. Many of these apprentices may already have the skills and knowledge you need, so you’ll have a work-ready apprentice who can quickly add value to your business, shortening the time you’ll see a return on your investment.

Upskill and retrain current workforce

Did you know you can use apprenticeships to upskill and retrain your existing workforce? You can use apprenticeship training to fill any key skill gaps in your business and boost employee motivation by investing in their development.

One of your team members may be keen to get a formal qualification in their specialist area, or perhaps want to progress into a different role. There are apprenticeships from level 2 to level 7 (equivalent to a degree) so you’ll be able to find apprenticeships that suit the learning and development needs of your employees.

It’s also good to know that apprenticeships are designed by you as the employer, so they will reflect the relevant knowledge and skills that your business needs.

Boost team morale

Employee morale is important for any business to look at and work to improve – particularly while much of the team may be working remotely. Luckily, apprentices often bring a fresh approach and a positive attitude into the workforce, which can have a knock-on effect on existing staff.

They also tend to highly motivated, committed to the company that invested in them and supportive of its business objectives, which means they’re more likely to stay with you when their training has ended. This is a driver for other staff and promotes a healthy work ethic amongst the workforce.

Training and assessment support

As an employer, you are responsible for paying your apprentice for their normal working hours but you may be eligible for support with costs of training and assessments.

The Apprenticeship Levy covers this and is paid by large employers with income of over £3 million (they pay 0.5% of their total annual).

For business that don’t meet this income band, they pay just 5% towards the cost of training and assessing an apprentice. The government will pay the rest up to the funding band maximum.

If you also employ fewer than 50 employees, the government will pay 100% of the apprenticeship training costs up to the funding band maximum for apprentices aged 16 to 18 and 19-24. Further details on this can be found here.

Each apprenticeship also requires you to set up an End Point Assessment. This is an assessment of the knowledge, skills and behaviours that your apprentice has learned and they will only get their apprenticeship certificate after they have passed all the elements of their EPA.

You should refer to the EPA as part of your apprenticeship agreement with your apprentice, an apprenticeship agreement is different to an employment contract so should you need support on setting up such an agreement, please get touch with the Reality HR team.

There’s a lot more information about the various types of apprenticeships, and the payments to businesses, here. If you have any questions, please contact us at info@realityhr.co.uk.